1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Would be better if more geographically specific,
This review is from: Death and Exile: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Muslims, 1821-1922 (Hardcover)
Having read through the book and understanding that it touches on a number of issues that are obviously sensitive to some I must say I found it rather thin on detail and far too sweeping.
The book is concerning the Ottoman Muslims as defined by the Bosnian, Albanian, Bulgarian Turk, East Anatolian, Tatar and Caucasian Muslims who were murdered, raped, forcibly deported and had their land and property stolen during the Balkan war and Russian expansion.
Specific areas the book covers are Greece, Bulgaria, Eastern Anatolia, The Crimea and the Caucuses. Brief mention is made of Albania also. One of the main problems with the book is it covers such a vast geographical area and historical period that its attention to real detail is a little thin. It covers history from the Balkan wars up to the formation of the Turkish republic. It would be like writing a 368 page book on the history of Central Europe during world wars one and two and expecting to have detail on the various war crimes, massacres, and population expulsions. I feel it would have been a lot better if he had remained on one specific area such as the Balkans (Much in the same way he covers the Armenian rebellion in Van)
McCarthy is correct in stating that the plight of Ottoman Muslims is largely unknown in the West and a large part of Greek , Bulgarian and Balkan history has been airbrushed. Where he is over simplistic is in his assumption that everyone in the west regards history as some kind of "civilization vs barbarianism" and that regardless of the results conquest of a people of a different religion or ethnic group is something celebrated.
I also feel McCarthy has gotten himself a little too caught up in the official historical line of most Balkan countries "Turkey forged out of the ashes of an Empire" "The Greeks deep knowledge and pride in their history" etc.... It is doubtful that village Greeks in Central Anatolia had time to study Greek epics any more than the Turkish villager in Bulgaria or southern Greece sat about reading the Shahname.
The book also fails to answer some points such as the Russian push into the Caucuses. Why would the Russians simply depopulate an entire Geographical area, repopulate it with "Russians" (Does he mean Cossacks?) and then offer the local Muslims the choice of expulsion or removal to another part of the Russian empire? Was it simply conquest or was it for strategic reasons in which case, is this not the same argument the Turkish government uses for the deportation of Armenians during WW1? Why did the Russians choose to put Armenian families in Georgian ares when there are ethnic differences and conflicts between the two groups (Was McCarthy not aware of this when he decided to share with us that information?) Or was McCarthy far to concerned with seeing the conflict as "Christian Vs Muslim"?
This is a fascinating subject and one that is rarely studied (which is why I give it 4 stars) I would however, recommend the books of Shaw or Inalcik over McCarthy based upon this one (Though I did find his "Armenian rebellion in Van" Much better) I feel because he has tried to make this book more of a "General history" one he has skimmed far too many subjects and lacked real attention to detail.